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Bannock County issues disaster declaration for farmers

Ag. Commodities Suffer Rain Damage

INKOM, Idaho - This year's exceptionally high rain levels have caused significant losses for many local farmers and on Wednesday morning the Bannock County commissioners declared a state of disaster for these farmers in the region.

Commissioner Howard Manwaring said the commissioners were approached by the Idaho Grain Producers Association and the Idaho Barley Commission to ask for this declaration.

"This year we have had some really serious weather issues that have caused problems for our farmers and we want to make sure the farmers are taken care of," Manwaring said. "When they request a declaration we take it seriously because that means they have had extreme enough losses that something needs to be done."

The declaration means that farmers who have suffered severe losses could access subsidies by the state and federal government to make up those losses. But, those subsidies can only be accessed if the county declares a state of disaster.

This year the moisture levels were so high, it caused crops to rot and grain crops were the ones taking the hardest hit.

State senator and farmer in Inkom Jim Guthrie and his father Jim senior were out harvesting what was left of their crops on Wednesday when they heard the county had issued the declaration.

Like many farmers, the Guthries work long hours on their 300-acre farm during harvesting season, pulling 12-to-14 hour days, seven days a week.

Even with the laborious schedule, the gamble of farming was prevalent and where they kept the majority of their crops, they still suffered a loss of about 60 acres of barley with the rain and hale wiping-out tens of thousands of dollars of that crop.

But oddly enough, they Guthries were lucky since this loss was small in comparison to what other farmers lost during the rainy season.

"We were lucky enough to get our second crop up just before the rains so we did not get it damaged, plus we had the benefit of the rain to bring out our third crop, and I think it's one of the best we've ever had," Jim said. "Conversely, those who were just a little later had hay that was damaged or completely ruined. We did suffer some damage on some grain."

Guthrie said these damages are impacting commodity prices. 

"Now a lot of the grain crops were compromised so, for example, malt barley is now going to be feed barley. So that means there will be a lot of cheap grain feed for dairies and whatnot which will drive down the hay prices because they'll use that instead of hay," Jim added. "So, depending on what crops are ruined and what crops are benefiting from the moisture, that will change the dynamics of the commodities in the marketplace."

The Guthries said they won't be taking any of the subsidy money since they feel other farmers with higher means of production suffered bigger losses.

For more information on this issue, you can visit our story Karole Honas reported in August:

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